BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
Dating in 2019 feels like a mess. Aside from the overwhelming experience of online dating and meeting people, possibly one of the most nerve-wracking experiences is the inevitable first date.
No matter where you go, how long the date is, what time of day or what you wear, there is one thing that will happen at every single first date: a conversation.
Conversations are the make or break in dating, especially in the beginning. It’s how we show who we are! If you’re not communicating, no amount of amazing dating profile photos can save you.
There’s a phrase from improv that can immediately improve those first date conversations: Yes, And. Here are three things that Yes, And adds to your first date conversation:
Yes…shows you’re listening
When I’m talking about using Yes, Andin conversations, I’m talking about saying the literal words of Yesand And! Saying Yes is a great way to show that you’re listening. A study I love to reference is one out of Harvard from 2013 where research shows that when a person is being asked about themselves and another is actively listening, the person speaking starts feeling great. Dopamine starts flooding the speaker’s brain. And you, being the person listening? Chances are those good feelings will be associated with you!
You can use this to your advantage because, remember, you need to be actively listening for this to work. You can’t just ask someone about their day and tune out, waiting for your chance to talk. Ask a question that seeks more information about the other person, and then actively listen – and try to use the word Yes when you are recapping some of the information they just said. For example, if the other person is talking about a hard moment at work, maybe a lost file, you could say, “Yes, losing a file is the absolute worst!” You’re doing more than simply smiling and nodding to show you’re listening.
And can be used in two different ways: both add information. Back to our lost file, you can add information to the conversation and your listening hack by using the word And. It might sound like:
Yes, losing a file is the absolute worst, And it’s my worst nightmare.
See how this confirms that you’re listening and then adds your feelings and perspective? You might be thinking, I already use And all the time! Do you use it intentionally? That’s the game-changer – do it, and mean it!
The And becomes powerful with that intention and with the second way – ask for more information. It might sound like:
Yes, losing a file is the absolute worst, And it’s my worst nightmare. What did you do?
See what this does? It not only shows you’re listening, it also adds your feelings, and it asks for more information! Conversation, in the end, is a consistent back and forth with two people, and both people are moving it along – not just one ongoing droning monologue. This is also a nice litmus test to see if the other person is capable of conversation – if they are rambling about themselves the entire time, not asking you anything about yourself or showing that they are listening? Hard pass.
Beware of Buts
Yes, And draws attention to another word: But. The word Buthalts the conversation and makes one statement more important than another. If we take the same example from above and use But instead of And:
Losing a file is the worst, But it’s not as bad as losing everything from the cloud.
You’ve lessened the emotion of the speaker – which is not a good look. It’s also combative:
Losing a file is the worst, But you can redo it.
What if they don’t want to redo it? What if they actually can’t? What if the word But shows zero empathy and connection, and sounds like a brush off in conversation?
If you find yourself on a date with a But-er, try to use And as much as possible. It very well might be a big old red flag – take note, and act accordingly.
Yes, And to your next first date! May it be full of fun, good food and lots of wonderful conversation.